Nanaimo cannabis company says new zoning rules could cause them to leave

Nanaimo cannabis company says new zoning rules could cause them to leave

WATCH: A local cannabis company is worried that a new bylaw could be bad for business. Nanaimo City Council is expected to approve the bylaw Monday. It sets up guidelines about where cannabis companies can operate. But some critics say it could drive away millions in investment. Kendall Hanson reports.

Cliff Wiltshire is showing where his company, Salvation Botanicals, tests cannabis to make sure it’s pure and consistent.

It’s part of what his more than 40 employees do at the Health Canada approved facility, that’s been operating in Nanaimo since 2016.

They have multi-million dollars plans to expand into producing and processing cannabis products.

But they’re worried a new city bylaw will stop their plans.

“It would prohibit Salvation Botanicals from doing any expansion,” says Wiltshire, Salvation Botanical’s CEO. “It would also prohibit any other cannabis companies of which I know of a half a dozen who’ve expressed interest to me in building facilities in Nanaimo.”

The bylaw which is expected to get final approval Monday limits cannabis producers to lands zoned for heavy industry. A place where medicinal marijuana giant Tilray has been operating successfully.

But Wiltshire says finding industrial land is both difficult to come by and expensive and so the city should allow producers on light industrial land.

“We are a virtually a zero impact facility. There’s no effluent. There’s no pollution into the environment,” said Wiltshire.

But Nanaimo’s mayor says the bylaw doesn’t completely close the door on Salvation Botanical’s expansion plans.

“If he can show us that there’s no land available, which is don’t believe is correct, he can come to us and ask for a piece of land to be dedicated and rezoned,” said Bill McKay, Nanaimo’s Mayor. “We have to remember that one of the pieces of land that Tilray occupies right now was originally I2 and council did a rezoning on that piece of property.”

But Wiltshire says the bylaw will put a significant roadblock in front of his company though this is also a perfect time for change.

“There’s an election in Nanaimo and I want the voters to know what’s going on,” said Wiltshire.

He hopes this will be an election issue.

If nothing changes he says this could mean his company, employees and investment money moves to another more business-friendly municipality.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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